Most people are familiar with the basic anatomy of the male body. The penis, the scrotum, the testicles, these are all parts that are commonly referred to or taught in your basic first-level high school class. It’s only when something hurts or starts to act up that you’ll start googling or webmd-ing your way through the body and all its parts so you can figure out what’s going on with that obscure part you can’t name. While playing internet doctor is not the best way to diagnose a health concern, it is a great way to start learning more about your body and all of its parts.
It’s important to know your body and have the vocabulary to discuss whatever issues or concerns you have with your doctor. So let’s start with a quick 101 on the prostate.
What is the prostate?
Located below the bladder and in front of the rectum, the prostate is a walnut-shaped gland whose main function is to secrete prostate fluid (one such fluid you may have heard of is semen). A part of the reproductive system, the prostate muscles propel seminal fluid into a tube called the urethra during ejaculation (the urethra carries urine from the bladder to the penis).
What does the prostate do?
The prime function of the prostate gland is to make fluid for semen. Three things happen when a man ejaculates:
- Sperm is made in the testicles which moves to the urethra.
- Seminal fluid is made in the prostate which moves to the urethra.
- Semen (the combo of 1 and 2) propels out of the urethra and out through the penis.
What happens when the prostate gland flares up or becomes enlarged?
It is natural for the prostate to grow as a boy goes through puberty; that’s when the prostate will almost double in size. The second time the prostate grows is as of 25 years old and continues to grow for the rest of a man’s life.
So that brings us to Benign Prostate Hyperplasia…
First of all, Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (aka BPH) is, as the name indicates, benign. It is a normal condition of male aging and is very common. BPH is not cancer.
BPH is a prostate gland enlargement that sees slightly larger prostate growth than “normal,” which may or may not be coupled with symptoms. Although many men will be asymptomatic and may not even notice that their prostate has become enlarged, some men will have urinary or sexual issues as a result. Some men experience an impeded urine flow, which can lead to bladder, urinary tract, or kidney problems.
Some other symptoms include:
- Unable to completely empty the bladder
- Need to urinate two or more times per night
- Straining to urinate
- Sudden urge to urinate
- Weak urine stream
- Dribbling of urine
- Painful urination
- Blood in the urine
Diagnosis is fairly straightforward. Once a medical history has been taken along with a review of your symptoms, your urologist might recommend a urinalysis, ultrasound, rectal exam, cystoscopy, or other diagnostics.
In the next blog, I will outline some of the treatments available to those who have been diagnosed with Benign Prostate Hyperplasia. Here’s a teaser: there are several effective treatments that range from oral medications to minimally invasive procedures or surgery.
Read up on your body, ask questions, and #havetheballstotalkaboutit.